Rituals in the Heat
It’s bitter here in the Northern Hemisphere right now, but I’ve been thinking about the South and the heat they are experiencing.
Seems as though we are rich with ritual traditions and activities for the colder, darker half of the year, but after the Maypole there is very little until Hallows rolls around again. So…what do you do when it’s hot out, ritually speaking? Midsummer and Dimming want to know!
So I’m blue-skying activities here, and the classical Greek concept of “four elements” seems to offer itself as a way of organizing them.
First, water. This is a basic and human response to heat–we flood (ha ha) to beaches, lakes, rivers, waterfalls…anywhere that cooling, rejuvenating magical fluid pours and flows. We can honor bodies of water, and by extension, the Earth itself with biodegradable offerings. We can dip and swim and soak our feet and stave off the desiccating blaze of that raging Sun. We can daub our bodies with symbols in mud. We can pour libations on the Earth or in the water in honor of ancestors, of the Earth, of our fellow Atheopagans and our community.
After dark can be a wonderful time in the summer, with the air temperate and comfortable. Those are good times to celebrate with fire. Bonfires, campfires, beach fires…in every case, you will find humans gather around fires, because they have been our guardian and aid after dark since long before we even evolved to be modern homo sapiens. You can make offerings to the fire in the name of a ripe impending Harvest, or burn symbols of what didn’t serve you in the first half of the year. You can dance wildly around the fire, which is an experience I wish for everyone–so joyous and primal (no gauzy flammable clothing, please). Protip: if you throw a handful of powdered coffee creamer into a fire, it makes for a nice fireball–a perfect effect for banishing rituals or invocations of new things in your life.
You can warm water by the fire and drink herbal infusions, healing teas, or even entheogenic infusions like psychedelic mushroom tea (presuming they are legal where you are, of course). Be sure to be safe around fire: have buckets of water or lots of sand and a shovel available to put it out if something goes wrong.
In the summer, the air can feel delicious: warm but not hot, liquid on the skin. So when you have the opportunity, strip down as much as possible and feel it! Feel the sun glowing on your skin, and the blessed cool of the shadows when you duck out from under it. Cast leaves to the wind, shouting “thank you!” Burn incense or cast it into your fire.
As for earth-enjoy the bounty! Fruits and vegetables are plentiful now. Berries and melons are juicy and sweet. If there are agricultural fields near you, or you have a vegetable garden, adopt the custom of wassailing the crops, singing songs to the growing plants and pouring water around their roots.
Heat can be its own kind of challenging environment (particularly with humidity), but the warm times of the year can be magical, even if you have to wait for sundown to enjoy them. These are just a few ideas–what are yours?